Privilege of being able to create your own sense of belonging

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During Monday evening session with Eugenia, we were talking about several concepts including global citizenship and belonging. Eugenia stressed that sense of belonging is a very important element in peace and peacebuilding. She also argued that despite the different backgrounds we all have, a sense of belonging is achievable for everyone. We all can work towards it and after all, we are all made out of the same matters. On the other hand, some might argue that this statement is only true for those who have the privilege to fit into different communities in this world. On another day, one of us (participants) also shared in class that they can afford to be who they are and stick to their values and beliefs, even in situations or environments of cultures that might constrain that. Some of us also voiced that global citizenship is an idealistic and unrealistic term.

While hearing all these conversations, I have been consistently reflecting back on my own identity. The question of where do I belong can not be answered in a simple sentence for me. The more I have been around the world and the older I get, considering all the experiences I have had, I either answer to that question with “I belong everywhere” or “I belong nowhere”. Perhaps I am very fortunate to feel most relatable to the term global citizen, compared a citizen to any other specific country. Or perhaps, it’s sad to not be able to pinpoint a single place that I feel belong to. Either way, I have developed and adapted coping skills (as some might say) to fit in the wider world, instead of a country in this world. Framing my identity that connects to the wider world and bigger population of human race might comfort me because I know I don’t hold just a set of beliefs that can be fitted into just a single culture. But does any of us really feel belong to just one community?

Going to school with people from every corner of the world, during the time of growing up to be a young adult, has turned my world upside down. I must say I would never take that experience back. Some might say I have been brainwashed by the idealistic-multicultural environment that I had the privilege and enormous luck to have experienced, to see the world as so connected and see the human race with so much optimism and hope. Nevertheless, this perspective of the world has given me a lot of hope and energy to enter peacebuilding work, the work of the impossibles as some might say.

As confusing as it is to live my life feeling connected to the wider world rather than to one place, I have learned to create home wherever I go. I have learned to develop a sense of belonging and home in multiple places. That is something I really value and would never want it taken away from me. It’s not perfect. I often need to give and take more than some people to create that new home but I also get to experience life from the lens of possibility, empathy and connection to differences. So do I dare call myself a global citizen? Yes. And that is the best way I can find my sense of belonging, which is important for me to reach peace within myself, to then be able to do the work needed in peacebuilding that I long to do.

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